Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Homes for the homeless

A Benalla man is thankful to Wintringham Homes for providing him with a roof over his head.

October 3, 2012 5:55am

Minister Wendy Lovell, Member for Benalla Bill Sykes, Stephen Russell and Bryan from Wittringham Housing.

The name Wintringham Homes probably doesn’t mean a lot to most — but to local man Stephen Russell it is the difference between a roof over his head and life on the streets.

Mr Russell once had it all — a wife, family, a job and his health — but in a split second it was snatched from him, leaving him with little choice but to live in alleyways and under bridges for almost two decades.

Wintringham Homes was last week officially opened by Housing Minister Wendy Lovell, and Mr Russell shared his story about how vital the service has become.

‘‘I went from an existence to living a life,’’ he said of his improved circumstances.

While those who toured Mr Russell’s unit were moved by his emotional story, he says now he is getting his life back together.

‘‘I have started physio again, before that I gave up ’cause there was no point — but now I am giving it a real go,’’ Mr Russell said.

For Mr Russell the saddest part about living on the streets was not having a home for his three children and grandchildren to come home to.

‘‘I have one grandchild and another on the way, so I now have a home that they can come and visit me in — and they do as often as possible,’’ he said.

The 18 new Alexander Miller Estate Trust Homes in Benalla and Euroa came as a result of a joint partnership between the Department of Human Services and Wintringham Housing.

Minister Lovell said the homes, some of which are new and others redeveloped, are being made available to older residents and those who are disadvantaged in our community.

‘‘It’s important our older citizens who may be frail and have special requirements, have living arrangements to support them,’’ she said.

Upon hearing Mr Russell’s story, councillor Barb Alexander said it was ‘‘simply inspirational’’.

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes reinforced Cr Alexander’s claims and said if he had to swap rural living for town living, these homes would work a treat.

‘‘‘They have a country style, openness ... and there is a sense of community.’’

With a renewed sense of hope, Mr Russell sincerely thanked Minister Lovell for her commitment.

‘‘I am going to carry on and do the best I can,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s nothing I can’t do, I couldn’t be happier.’’

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